Universal acclaim - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. I remember being disappointed after subsequently discovering Bleach, the band’s debut. It didn’t have Nevermind’s hooks, precise quiet/loud dynamics or Butch Vig’s glossy production. Years later, it’s those attributes that make Bleach so endearing.
  2. Sure, it’s valuable as a blueprint for music that would change everything (for a while, anyway), but also as a repository for the perfect synthesis of grunge’s anger and Kurt Cobain’s pop sensibility.
  3. This music has history in its chords, and it is as powerful today as it was 20 years ago. [Holiday, 2009, p.80]
  4. Even if the songwriting didn’t completely explore the full scope of Cobain’s capabilities, Bleach also represents that point in time when money was an object and the music was all that mattered, a precursor to a cultural shift that made Sub Pop a national brand.
  5. Bleach is freshened up with remastered versions of unusually heavy songs like the haunting "Negative Creep," where Cobain howls about alienation and being stoned, and the pounding "Floyd the Barber," where the main subject of the eerie track is a man being strapped down and tortured by characters from "The Andy Griffith Show.
  6. Toasty as vinyl, comparable to Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab's CDs of Nevermind (1991) and In Utero (1993), firstborn Bleach reiterates its place not at the front of the line but in between its two older brawlers.
  7. Rock-stardom is not necessarily what you hear beckoning on Sub Pop’s 20th-anniversary reissue of Bleach, which comes with a sludgy live set taped at Portland’s Pine Street Theatre in 1990. In a way, though, that only makes this program of lumpen lumberjack-metal moves more interesting.
  8. Though briskly paced, Bleach is a front-loaded record, the maniacal/melodic contrasts of its stellar first half--anchored by the epochal anti-love song 'About a Girl'--ceding to the more period-typical grunge of its second.
  9. 80
    Bleach sounds liked a valiant manifesto for something new that succeeded beyond anyone's wildest nightmare. [Dec 2009, p.112]
  10. 80
    One small quibble, though: while it’s great to have documentation of the band’s early live sound (and in many ways the versions of the songs from Bleach are superior thanks to the sprightly energy), you don’t really get a sense of the sheer ferocity and electricity Nirvana generated in a tiny, cramped college bar.
  11. Bleach's grooviness is intrinsic to its enduring appeal, just as much as the cankerous layers of noise. [Dec 2009, p.128]
  12. Beginning with a feedback overture and ending with full-on instrument destruction, the live set is a snapshot of a menacingly feral band about to become a beast.
  13. Bleach showed instances of promise and a few songs went on to become some of the best they ever wrote, but in comparison, it pales to the band’s later work. So take it all in stride because Bleach is surely for fanatics but certainly not for everyone.
  14. Listening to Bleach now, the main thing that comes across is how little it sounds moored to a specific time.
  15. Ironically, this package was always going to be one for the completists, but those who’ll actually get the most from Bleach are still the "Nevermind" fans left feeling alienated by the gnarled triumph that was "In Utero."
  16. That Nirvana sound forceful isn't a surprise, but they also sound surprisingly tight--a little bit looser than they would sound within a year, but they're clearly marshaling their forces, gaining strength and skill.
  17. At the end of the day, Bleach is still the weakest of the band’s full-length albums, but there’s enough good stuff to merit a spin.
  18. Bleach is a stronger record than it is commonly perceived to be, and does deserve to be checked out in some form by fans of heavy riff-driven rock. Regardless, this reissue is underwhelming, seemingly more concerned with enticing Nirvana completists to purchase it for the live material than in illuminating why Nirvana’s first album was an important step in a career that has helped define rock music for the last two decades.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 47 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 1 out of 6
  1. Mar 29, 2011
    I love this first album from Nirvana. Some of the songs on this records are awesome from Negative Creep, School to Love Buzz. Most of the songs are great and should be addressed as one of the greatest records ever made. Full Review »
  2. Apr 25, 2012
    This album is more interesting from a historical perspective than as a stand-alone piece of work. One listens knowing that two of these men will go to record the best album of the last quarter-century. However, Bleach alone shows a number of flaws. It's not much better than a lot albums from struggling underground bands. It's obvious that the drumming talent just isn't there. Download "Downer". It's the one track on the album that really shows the energy and punk growl that would make Nirvana great. Full Review »
  3. Dec 3, 2011
    Great album gets a much needed sound mastering. This isn't easy to digest after first listen, but the reward is awesome - you get to discover something new after every listen. You could sense the genius in Cobain's songwriting, there are some incredible songs here, just the sound and production were very raw (obviously, everyone knows this album was made for $600). However, the songs are very passionate and engaging, you could almost tell that Kurt was going through some hard times. When I need a break from all the beautifully crafted "commercial" records such as say U2 or Pearl Jam, this is what I reach for, intelligent, tense and raw. Not to mention this deluxe version gets a bonus disc with a great early live gig wth a very good sound. Amazing are those early live gigs from Nirvana, is like someone knew they gonna be big and made soundboard recordings. Try finding early Smashing Pumpkins concerts with such a good sound! Full Review »